NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the electric grid operator for most of the state, is getting its first real test of the summer.
Temperatures were in the triple digits Monday and the trend is expected to continue through Thursday. Late Monday night, ERCOT announced the grid experienced record use for a day in June.
At the peak of the day between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., customers used 65,047 megawatts. The previous record happened on June 17 last year, when 63,102 were used.
A single megawatt is enough to power 500 homes during normal conditions and only 200 homes during peak demand.
As it stands, ERCOT is performing under normal conditions and no emergency alerts have been issued, but persistent hot weather could change that.
“Unless we lose some generations, which sometimes does happen, or we start seeing temperatures climb even higher than [previously] forecast then we may see demand hit a higher number,” ERCOT spokeswoman Robbie Searcy explained.
While there appears to be sufficient electricity available, ERCOT is still urging customers to conserve electricity between 3 p.m. and 7 pm today.
“Certainly if temperatures exceed what we’re forecasting there may be a situation where we do enter lower reserves and it becomes even more critical for the public to conserve,” Searcy said.
Keeping in mind that one-megawatt is enough to power 500 homes during normal conditions and only 200 homes during peak demand, ERCOT uses a 3-tier emergency alert system.
The lowest alert is a Power Watch. During that Level 1 situation power reserves would have to be below 2,300 megawatts and customers, mostly business and industrial, would be asked to conserve energy.
The second highest alert is a Power Warning. During that Level 2 situation power reserves would have to be below 1,750 megawatts and conservation would be deemed “critical”. All customers would be asked to cut back energy use.
The highest alert is a Power Emergency — that Level 3 situation would result in transmission operators implementing rotating outages or rolling blackouts.
Officials with ERCOT say they aren’t expecting any rolling blackouts this summer. ERCOT made it through the summer of 2011, the hottest on record, without rolling blackouts. The last rotating outages in North Texas happened in February during severe winter weather.
Consumers can reduce electricity use during peak demand hours by:
♦ Turning the thermostat if you’re going to be away from home during the day
♦ If you are at home, turning up the thermostat by two or three degrees in the late afternoon
♦ Limiting use of large appliances, like stoves, washers and dryers, to early morning and late evening
The new ERCOT Energy Saver mobile app has more conservation tips. App users can also sign up to receive notifications when reserve power is low.
Searcy said, “That mobile app will provide notifications when we actually are entering particularly tight electric generation reserves.”
The app is available for Apple and Android devices.
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